My Review of “Teach Like a Pirate”

I’m under no illusions that I’m some fantastic book reviewer. In fact, “Teach like a Pirate” by Dave Burgess is the first book I’ve discussed here. However, I had several takeaways that I want to remember and share.

Dave wrote this book based on an acronym: PIRATE.


P is for Passion

I’ve identified my three passions that directly affect my instruction and demeanor in the classroom.

Content passion: proportionality because it is far-reaching into other mathematical concepts. It is also (in my mind) the most applicable to the real world out of the standards that I teach in 7/8 math.

Professional passion: learning more about how to teach all students, no matter their level of learning. That’s why I read so many books. That’s why I changed my grading system to SBG.

Personal passion: fitness and health. By sheer genetics, I have inherited a host of issues that could possibly rear their ugly heads. I want to negate those issues. I want to be around for my children through all stages of their lives. I want to grow old with my husband. I absolutely do not want to be incapacitated in any way because I didn’t take good enough care of myself. I got into CrossFit because I wanted something more out of my workout. I feel like I’m a better person because I push myself to my physical limits for one hour a day. And my family thanks me for it because I have used that one hour of time to unload all the stress I’ve accumulated from my day.

I is for Immersion: Swimmer or Lifeguard?

I want to be a swimmer. I need to immerse myself into my students’ learning so I can ensure they are receiving the best I can give them. I’ve been a lifeguard for longer than I care to think about.

R is for Rapport

This past school year was the most challenging behavior-wise. However, there was one student, Martin* who seemed to have trouble in every class but mine. I didn’t realize until I read this book why, but I made an effort to connect with him for a few minutes every now and then in between classes. Imagine what I could have done if I had extended myself like that with other students! No excuses to be made, but I allowed myself to be overcome by minutiae everyday. It exhausted me, and I retreated into myself instead of ratcheting up my enthusiasm.

A is for Ask and Analyze

“Ask, ‘How can I make this lesson outrageously entertaining, engaging, and powerful so that my students will never forget it and will be desperate to come back for more?'” (p. 43) I can strive for this with each lesson…I know it may be unrealistic to expect myself to come up with magic for every. Single. Lesson. But I can certainly open myself up for the possibility.


I most definitely can stand to be more enthusiastic. There are moments…days even, when I can feel myself in the zone and the students respond to that like you wouldn’t believe. I have to keep that spark going, and that may mean faking it when I’m not feeling it. But Dave brings up a great point about that–when you force yourself into the enthusiasm zone, you soon come to a point when you’re not forcing yourself anymore…you’re truly feeling enthusiastic.

Every Pirate needs a hook!

I loved the multitude of hooks he provided in the book. Some I KNOW I can implement, and some may take some self-talk (putting myself into character for example). Others I’ll have to practice or be super creative with (storytelling for example–I can’t tell a joke, so why should I expect myself to tell a story? And I teach math, so I might have to pull from the recesses of my brain for stories or perhaps use picture books in that realm).

Overall this book gave me a jolt of enthusiasm for next year. I have a lot of ideas already floating through my head that I need to organize.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

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